The quintessential symbol of Paris, le Tour Eiffel (Eiffel Tower). It's a pretty standard shot, I think, but honestly, I liked the monochromatic scheme of the photo; it's in color but doesn't appear so initially. I also liked the reverse silhouette background; it's often shown as dark against a blue background but this was different somehow. It's not as clear as I would have liked, but here it is...
Arguably the most famous landmark in Paris, named for its designer and engineer, Gustave Eiffel, the tower is comprised of 18,038 beams of puddled iron, a pure form of structural iron, and is held together by 2.5 million rivets. It's built on the Champ de Mars (Field of Mars) beside the Seine River. It's also the tallest structure in Paris at 324 meters (1,063 feet), and surpassed the Washington Monument as the world's tallest structure when it was completed in 1889; its height was not surpassed until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. It weighs around 7,300 tons but because of the light yet strong superstructure it can sway 6-7 cm (2-3 inches) in high winds, which may not sound like much but the stresses are immense. It's It's been estimated that more than 200 million people have visited it since its construction (1887-1889). The tower was first built as the entrance for the World's Fair, marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. It was evidently originally planned for the Universal Expositionof 1888 in Barcelona, but when the powers that be refused to have it built there, construction was approved for the 1889 exhibition in Paris.
The Eiffel Tower has had something of a turbulent history. Despite the incredible danger workers faced during its construction, reportedly only one person actually died. The tower was initially met with considerable resistance by those who considered it an "eyesore," much like the highly contested glass pyramid of I.M. Pei at the Louvre, but it's now considered to be an important work of art. It's also something of a survivor: Eiffel only had a permit for the structure to stand for 20 years; it would have had to have been dismantled in 1909, when ownership reverted to the city of Paris as the city planned to tear it down, but the matter was reconsidered as it was proposed that it might be valauble for communication purposes, namely as a radio tower. For this reason, the tower survived. In fact, the military did employ it for such means, so it later became something of a victory statue as well. It was so important that allegedly, upon the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940, the elevator cables were cut by the French resistance so that Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit, which he did not do, so it was widely whispered that Hitler may have conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower!! During the 2000 celebrations, the tower played host to the Millennium Celebration of the city, during which fireworks were lit which exploded form teh whole length of the tower (which I missed by about 8 months!). However, flashing lights were installed on the tower the same year, and so the light show has since become a nightly event.